All-American Pharoah All the Time
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., June 21, 2015—I wish I could say that there existed the same amount of hysteria associated with the first three Triple Crown winners of the modern era pre-American Pharoah but in good conscience I just don’t remember it that way.
The probable cause lies in the fact that soon after Secretariat broke the quarter-century drought that came after Citation in 1948, two more winners of racing’s most celebrated gauntlet came in rapid succession; Seattle Slew four years later and Affirmed a year after that.
Back in the day, Secretariat was deservedly known as “the Mighty Secretariat,” such was his imposing presence and the supreme power he displayed during many of his stunning performances.
But Seattle Slew--still the only member of this exclusive club to have won the series while undefeated--was not truly acknowledged as a true “great” until his four-year-old season.
Ironically, Seattle Slew was more celebrated following a narrow come-again defeat in the Jockey Club Gold Cup than he was in victory, an effort that remains the most amazing performance by a racehorse we’ve ever seen; Big Red’s Belmont being the most perfect.
Of course, Affirmed came along the next year to sweep the Triple Crown in 1978. Maybe it was his rivalry with Alydar that at once confirmed his talent but in some way diminished the aura of greatness because back then it was all about “The Rivalry,” the uncoupled entry of all-time.
Ho hum, Affirmed’s Belmont was just another Triple Crown sweep. Most agree there should have been a third straight but the racing gods foiled the quest of the undeniable great Spectacular Bid. At least, Bid did help solidify the ‘70s as racing’s greatest decade.
There is little doubt that the sporting appetite for greatness was heightened by the futility that lasted 37 years until this past June 6. During that time television became the greatest communication conduit ever, heightened only by a new media that can be carried in pocket or purse.
The current hysteria surrounding American Pharoah--I didn’t even realize, e.g., that Julia Roberts was a big racing fan, did you?--was aided by the fact that he has a cool name. It might be the chicken-and-egg effect but badly named horses don’t win Triple Crowns:
All We Are Saying… Is Give Bill a Chance
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., June 14, 2015—Three years ago, a couple of political operatives approached Frank Stronach to ask for his support. They were trying to help cobble together legislation that effectively would put an end to the use of raceday medication.
Stronach listened attentively, wished them luck, told them he was on their side, but that he was distrustful of federal intervention, had his own way of doing things, and wished to affect change through the auspices of the industry itself.
Two months ago, Stronach showed up on Capitol Hill with his lobbyist in tow and asked one question: “What can I do to help?”
When racing’s ultimate rabble-rousing visionary, who has invested over a billion dollars in the sport, gives up on the prospect that the industry can reform itself if everyone would just give it a little more time to build on the progress already made, why should players and fans place their trust in the same old promises?